Tabitha Brown, actress and media personality, have never been shy to speak about her health complication and allergies and how they lead her to a vegan lifestyle. Recently, Tabitha posted a video encouraging people to be vigilant with companies and food product ingredients. Research estimates that 32 million Americans have food allergies, 8% (1 in 13) of that total impacting children. Research also suggests that about 40% of children with allergies are allergic to more than one food.
Individuals need to be aware of the items they are consuming, and it is equally essential for those creating products to be transparent about their products. I have had some experiences of being out to eat with someone with allergies and dietary restrictions and being served items they have asked not to be served. Some occasions were mistakes, but many also thought that “it is not that bad” or that their dietary restrictions were a choice.
Certain food items such as dairy products can cause inflammation to some consumers resulting in unpleasant gut health and diarrhea. When someone eliminates a food item that causes harm and is abruptly consumed, it can cause serious health issues. Asking for substitutes or \modifications is not a trend. It is how they navigate the world. Below are a few ways to advocate for yourself if you have an allergy and how to make yourself away if you are a food provider.
How do I know if I have an allergy?
An appointment can be made independently or referred to see an allergy specialist. During an appointment, the physician can conduct patch tests on skin with different allergy-causing foods, trees, and bug bites and get an immediate result.
When should I see a specialist?
If you notice you are experiencing discomfort or having a reaction after eating certain foods or going outside, it may be time to speak to a professional. Sometimes we can see the patterns, and keeping a record of any changes or reactions you notice is reasonable.
What do I do next?
You found out you have an allergy, but what now? If it is food, go through your kitchen and discard any items that can cause a reaction, and if it’s environmental, speak to a professional about any medications that can stop a reaction. Talk to family and friends about your allergies and research what items can be consumed and substitutes you can use.
How do I be inclusive of others’ dietary restrictions?
Do your research and make sure items are correctly labeled. Make sure you know the true definition of dairy-free before putting that label on your products. Study how certain dishes can be substituted and, if applicable, create an area for dishes that can be made separate from the rest of the meals. Lastly, understand allergies are common even if not diagnosed yet, so respect someone’s body when they tell you what they can and cannot have.
Prioritizing your health is not an inconvenience to anyone and should not be treated as such by anyone. Unfortunately, allergies impact a large percentage of our community, and we hope others will take them more seriously when working with the general public.
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